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Grow: Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth (Week 4)

“Grow”

Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth.

1 Timothy 4:14-16; Psalms 116:17-19

September 22, 2019

 

“Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.  Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.”     

                                                                1 Timothy 4:14-16

 

INTRODUCTION:

 

Over the last month, you have been reminded of the words given by a very wise man of God (Paul) to his young disciple (Timothy), reminding him of the importance of staying in God’s Word. It is through the Word that he will be able to grow in the ministry to which he was called.

 

Sermon #1:        Need for daily nourishment, daily spiritual exercise and living a life of integrity.

 

Sermon #2:        We are to command and teach the Word, set an example on both the outside and inside of our lives, and devote ourselves to the Scripture, to exhortation (encouraging others), and teaching how to live it out.

 

Sermon #3:        Proper food for growth, Knowing that our food source is God’s Word as milk, bread, meat & honey (dessert), and the Evidence will be good fruit.

                       

This week, Paul continues to encourage spiritual growth in these five areas:

 

1) Focus

2) Mediate

3) Dedicate

4) Integrity

5) Stay true

 

I want to invite you to follow these same practical steps. It is something that I am still working on every day of my life. I am not asking you to follow me, but rather join me as I follow Christ. It is my desire to show you through God’s Word how we can each be successful in doing this. Not merely present you with a sermon full of platitudes that is someone else’s trite or stale remarks, for while God’s Word has been around for a long time, it is never stale or trite. Just as He provided fresh manna every morning for Israel in the desert, His Word provides fresh food for our lives every moment of every day! And here is a fresh serving for you today!

 

  1. FOCUS

               

“Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received…” (v.14a)

 

 

QUOTE:               “The office of ministry is a gift, it is the gift of Christ.

                                …Do not neglect the ministry gift given to you.

 

Matthew Henry Commentary

 

  1. Timothy’s gift was recognized and affirmed by the ministry leaders. It was a gift given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the entire body.

 

[PICTURE OF A SUCCULENT GIFT VS PICTURE OF A NEGLECTED GIFT]

 

  • Ministry gifts will wither if neglected.
  • Spiritual ATROPHY (Not apathy, even though it can cause it)

 

 

  1. Paul did not want Timothy to ever feel like he had “arrived” and could sit back and cruise until Jesus returned.

 

“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”                                                                                           

                Ephesians 4:11-13

 

  • Timothy was there when the Ephesians got this letter.
  • Needed to keep preaching this until they all came into unity and were mature in the Lord!

 

 

  1. MEDITATE

 

“Give your complete attention to these matters” (v.15a)

               

  1. Need time for preparation of the message.

 

  • average pastor spends 13-18 hours for one message
  • In the book of Acts, the apostles called the 7 deacons to serve the needs of the church so they could spend time in prayer and the study of God’s Word. (Acts 6)

 

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”                  

Philippians 4:8

 

  1. When we think on these things, we don’t have space for any other thing!

 

  • Kevin said last week “G.I.G.O” when talking about food
  • Same is true in our thought life.
  • This is why we need to fast and pray (clear our head)

 

 

QUOTE:  Brooke Obie, Guidepost Magazine, says the benefits of fasting are: 1) Soul Cleansing,

2) New Desire for God,

                3) A Deeper Praise,

4) A Sensitivity to God’s Voice, and

                5) A New Satisfaction. A small price to pay for what you have gained.

 

https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/health-and-wellness/5-spiritual-benefits-of-fasting

 

  • Like love, meditation must be both an inward & outward journey

 

 

III. DEDICATE

 

“…Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress.”  (v.15b)

 

 

[Blind Side Video Clip]

 

  1. You have to be all in!

 

 

 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

Jeremiah 29:13

 

  • Just like in a physical workout, you have to put the effort into your spiritual workout.

 

 

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Philippians 2:12-13

 

  1. Give yourself wholly so you can be holy!

 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to     present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to         this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2

 

 

  • The only problem with a living sacrifice is it keeps getting up off the altar!
  • You have to be the one to place yourself there, which requires dedication and commitment!

 

  1. INTEGRITY

 

Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching.” (v.16a)

 

 

  1. Living a life worthy of the calling!

 

 

“Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a   life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.  Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.                       Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-3              

 

  • We are all called to live this way, not just those in leadership.
  • You are a living example of Jesus that those around you will see!

 

 

  1. Continue to grow (keep it fresh)

 

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””                                      

  Lamentation 3:22-24

                               

  • Just like every day is a fresh new day with God, we have to be open to learning more from His Word as the Holy Spirit will reveal something new from the same scriptures we may have read before!
  • We have to keep growing so we can offer fresh food to those God brings into our lives…and show them how they, too, can find this source of Life!

 

  1. STAY TRUE

 

Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation
and the salvation of those who hear you.” (v.16b)

 

  1. Your own salvation.

 

  • Self care in our spiritual life is important, for if we are not healthy, how can we correctly lead others.

 

                “ and on his law he meditates day and night.”     Psalms 1:2

 

                “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a   thankful heart.” Colossians 4:2

 

[ILLUS: Sabbatical season]

                       

  1. Other’s salvation.

 

Live wisely among those who are not believers and make the    most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”                                                               

Colossians 4:5-6

 

  • While we can’t make the decision for them, it is natural for people to look for an example to follow.
  • Kids imitate parents; young athletes imitate pros.
  • Like it or not, people are watching our lives. We need to reflect Jesus in everything we do.

 

QUOTE:  John Maxwell:  “The more you walk, the less you have to talk.  Live the Life in front of those you seek to influence.    Our leadership is more caught than taught. People would rather see a sermon than hear one.”

 

 

 

 CONCLUSION:

 

I have said it before and I will say it again and again. All of these simple truths are from God’s Word. They are here for us as believers to follow, not pick and choose what we want or don’t want to do. As a disciple of Christ, we are to follow His commands. I have challenged you every week with this proclamation:

 

I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people…”                                                                                                          

Ps. 116:17-19

 

 

You have to be the one to make the choice.

 

You are the one that chooses to listen and obey or ignore and turn away.

 

What will you do today?

 

 


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Grow: Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth (Week 3)

Disciplines Needed for Healthy Spiritual Growth

Psalm 1

Good morning…

Who likes eating?

You can all tell I like eating. I like being fed a good meal.

 

Today I want to talk to you about the discipline of feeding & how incredibly important that is for our growth.

 

It may make you hungry… but I’m going to need you to focus & I promise to get you out of here no later than 12:30.

 

You may not have known that eating is a spiritual discipline but if you want to grow closer to Jesus… in every season of life… you can’t get there without being fed.

 

We’re going to look at Psalm 1 today & learn what we can about this discipline that is needed for healthy spiritual growth.

When you’ve found your place in Psalm chapter 1, please stand out of reverence for God’s word.

 

Psalm chapter 1

 

I’d like to read this Psalm again, this time in the NLT

 

Psalm 1 (NLT)

 

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.

 

This is one of my favorite psalms & one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible.

 

In this Psalm we get a great lesson on the spiritual discipline of being fed.

 

We get a great picture of how we can Grow Closer to Jesus in every season of life.

 

We get two images of two different types of people in Psalm 1.

 

The first picture is of a healthy, growing believer.

The second picture is of someone who is not a healthy, growing believer.

 

Both of these pictures in the Psalm teach us an important lesson, to be a healthy, growing believer you need to be fed, you need to be nourished by God.

 

As physical beings we need physical food, physical nourishment to grow, stay healthy, stay alive.

 

But we’re more than physical beings, we are spiritual beings too & we can’t just be fed physically, we need spiritual nourishment.

 

The scriptures call our relationship with Jesus a walk or a journey, if you don’t get refueled it’s extremely difficult to make the journey.

 

Verse 1 begins a contrast between the first person & the second.

 

Psalm 1:1-2 (CSB)

1 How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.

 

What we can see from the contrast of these two verses is that both types of people are getting fed.

Everyone is getting fed with something…

The question is… are you getting fed with something that is good for you, that will help you grow?

 

The person who is NOT a healthy believer is being fed with wicked advice, sinful words & mocking directed at God.

 

Garbage in garbage…

 

We’re supposed to grow closer to God in every season of life, not farther away.

If we’re fed with garbage like this, we won’t grow closer to Christ, we won’t be nourished for our journey with Him.

 

Instead we’ll be like the wicked person.

 

We get more information on them in verses four through six of Psalm 1.

 

Psalm 1:4-6 (CSB)

The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

 

If you’re not getting fed with the good stuff from God, it leads to a ruined life.

 

That is why we’re warned in

 

Colossians 2:8 (CSB)

Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elements of the world, rather than Christ.

 

What are you getting fed with?…

 

The first person isn’t like the wicked person though, he’s a healthy believer.

 

The psalmist says the healthy believer is like a healthy tree planted by a flowing stream or river.

 

Psalm 1:3 (CSB)

He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

 

The picture of a flourishing tree was a common symbol of a healthy believer.

It pops up in other places of scripture in

 

Jeremiah 17:8 (CSB)

He will be like a tree planted by water: it sends its roots out toward a stream, it doesn’t fear when heat comes, and its foliage remains green. It will not worry in a year of drought or cease producing fruit.

 

It’s also in

 

Psalm 92:12-14 (CSB)

12 The righteous thrive like a palm tree and grow like a cedar tree in Lebanon. 13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they thrive in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green,

 

It’s interesting in these two verses that both mention growing fruit in old age or never stopping fruit production.

 

That is the goal to never stop growing, never stop bearing fruit for Jesus.

So this is what we are supposed to be like as believers, like a flourishing tree.

How do we get like that?

 

The success of the thriving trees in these passages is all dependent on how close the tree is to it’s source of nourishment

 

If you look at verses 2 & 3, Psalm 1 tells us how we can be like this tree,

 

  1. We have to be planted by flowing streams/delight in God’s word & meditate on it often
  2. Then we’ll never wither
  3. Then we’ll produce fruit

 

First, we have to be planted by flowing streams. This means we need to be planted in Christ so that we can be fed, nourished by spiritual food that only God can give.
 
There is an issue here though.
 
You may be hearing this sermon this morning & your problem is not that you’re not getting fed by God but that you aren’t planted in Him yet.
 

 

Colossians 2:6-7 (CSB)
So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.
 
If you’re not planted, rooted in Christ, you can’t get fed. Get saved first, planted in Christ so you can grow closer to Him.   Once we’re in Christ we can be fed & are able to grow & thrive in Him.
 
Now we get to the fun part, how do we get fed by God?   How are we nourished spiritually so we can live the Christian life? So we can grow closer to Jesus & produce fruit in every season of life?
 
The answer is, we need nourishment from the word of God. If you didn’t see this coming, get your eyes checked…  
 
Psalm 1:2 (CSB)
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
 
A better translation here would probably be, “his delight is in the Lord’s law,” & the Hebrew word for law or instruction used in this verse is Torah.
 
Why is this important?   It’s important because at the time that this Psalm was written & sung in worship, what they had as God’s word would have been the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch or the Torah; this included Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers & Deuteronomy.
 
At that time they would have been fed by the Torah, would meditate on the Torah.   Hebrews scholar, , says this of Psalm 1:2, “The individuals who pattern their lives after Torah will be blessed.”
 
Now because the first five books of the law were all they had at the time, it doesn’t mean those first five books are all we can be fed by.   As God’s word grew, the term Torah also grew & is used as a blanket term for all the word of God.   “The word law (torah) is an elastic term… It can refer to an individual law, the laws of the Sinai, the Pentateuch, the Hebrew Bible or spiritual instruction.
 
Here it means all of God’s word, not just the Pentateuch.” – – Michael Rydelnik & Michael Vanlaningham (Moody Bible Commentary, pg. 759)
 
So today we can apply this to us, so we don’t just delight in the first five books but the whole & complete word of God we have, the Old & New Testaments.   So being fed by God’s word is a discipline we need for spiritual growth.
 
From my study I have found that there seem to be four types of Spiritual food found in the scriptures, four different types of nourishment that we all need at different times & stages of our walk with Christ.
 
The first is milk:
1 Peter 2:2-3 (CSB)
Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.
 
When you have a baby, you don’t start off giving them solid food. They don’t have teeth to chew it & their digestive system isn’t ready to process it.   They have to start with milk & get used to that before they can progress to meat.   It’s the same with new believers. They need nourishment from the word, a lot but we shouldn’t expect them to digest the Bible on the level of a mature believer.
 
There are certain books, passages & doctrines that a new born believer is just not ready for.   Another thing to consider is that babies need to eat more often than maturing people & this is true with discipleship as well.   New believers should be feeding yourself God’s word, in little bits often throughout the day.   Something else we need to consider when it comes to milk…
 
This is perfectly acceptable, healthy, natural & normal.
This… is NOT.
 
This is a very real problem, there are believers who are not newborns, not babies, that should be eating meat, maybe even feeding others meat, but they’re still going after the milk.   Don’t get mad at me for saying it.   This is not a new problem either…  
 
Hebrews 5:12-13 (CSB)
12 Although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the basic principles of God’s revelation again. You need milk, not solid food. 13 Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant.
 
That’s like an adult man hanging out in the kiddie end of the pool with water wings & a floatie.   We laugh but, this is real, there are Christians like this.   Why would you want to go back to formula when you could be having something good & tasty?   I’m hear to tell you, I’ve smelled Kevin Michael’s formula, it smells disgusting.   Anyone else smell the baby formula before you give it to your child? Disgusting! Can I get an amen?   I’d have to be pretty darn starving to even consider drinking that nonsense.   Kevin M loves it, he can’t get enough of it, it fills his tummy & that’s good he’s a baby.   He doesn’t know how good food can taste yet, but the milk is getting him ready.
 
This is Kevin M a few nights ago.
 
Scriptural milk should get us excited, hungry for solid Bible food.   Some Christians in the early church & some today need to increase their feeding so they can move on from milk to solids.   Are you a Christian like this?
 
The second type of food the Bible is, is bread:
 
Matthew 4:4 (CSB)
He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
 
God’s word is equated to our “daily bread” that keeps us alive & kicking.
 

Jesus is actually quoting the Old Testament here when said that, Deuteronomy 8:3 (CSB) He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then he gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.   Bread is your middle ground, its solid but not too hard to chew on or digest.   It’ll sustain you & keep you alive, keep you going, just like the scriptures will sustain you & keep you alive to walk with Jesus.

 

The third is meat: Hebrews 5:14 (CSB)

14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.   The meat of scripture is something you have to work towards, something to progress to.   Not all Christians in their current stage of maturity can handle the meat of the word, just like babies.   The meat of the word requires someone who can chew on it, with the ability to digest it.
 
For example, I never recommend the books of Ezekiel, Hebrews or Revelation to new believers.   For someone who is a new believer, I always recommend the Gospel of Mark, easy to understand, fast paced, Jesus focused, it’s a good place to start.   Not being ready for spiritual meat is nothing to be ashamed of or grumpy about, we all start there & then grow.
 

The fourth type of food is honey: Psalm 19:9-10 (NLT) Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb.

Psalm 119:102-103 (CSB)
102 I have not turned from your judgments, for you yourself have instructed me. 103 How sweet your word is to my taste—sweeter than honey in my mouth.
 
This is one that I feel isn’t taught enough in the church.   Honey was a sweet treat, dessert, a delight, one of the sweetest things they could get in ancient Israel.   You may not like honey & that’s okay, what it really symbolizes here is something sweet, dessert.   So picture your favorite dessert; candy, cakes, crème Brule or ice-cream.   We eat these things not so much for nourishment but because they’re sweet, they delight & comfort us.   This is what God’s word is. It is a sweet treat, it’s comfort food.   How we can pass over passages that talk about how much God loves us & the amazing lengths Jesus went to, to rescue us & not enjoy the sweetness?   Some of you might be thinking, “Can you give us an example?”  
 
John 3:16 (CSB) 16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
God gave up, sacrificed His Son, for us. For you. That is sweet!

 

Romans 6:23 (CSB)
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
 
Eternal life with God is a free gift, we can’t earn it & don’t have to try, He’ll just give it to us!   That is SWEET! It can be your delight if you let it.
 
The Bible is comfort food:
Hebrews 13:5-6 (CSB)
5 Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you. Therefore, we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
 
Comfort food
Isaiah 41:10-13 (CSB)
10 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand. 11 Be sure that all who are enraged against you will be ashamed and disgraced; those who contend with you will become as nothing and will perish. 12 You will look for those who contend with you, but you will not find them. Those who war against you will become absolutely nothing. 13 For I am the Lord your God, who holds your right hand, who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.    
 
Comfort food
Lamentations 3:20-23 (CSB)
20 I continually remember them and have become depressed. 21 Yet I call this to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! 24 I say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him.”
 
Comfort food… accept God’s comfort food… His dessert is actually really good for you. & it lasts, it’s forever.   I am so thankful for the people God put in my life, who when I was hurting or struggling, fed me the sweet comfort food of God’s word.   There are days where I don’t read my Bible & then the next time I do, I’m like why did I allow myself to miss Bible time, this is so good!
 
Is the Bible sweet to you?   If the answer is no, ask yourself why not?   Have you really given the scriptures a chance? Do you have a wonky perspective, maybe you see this as a dusty old rule book trying to kill your fun? It’s not. It’s dessert that wants to make you healthy.   So the Bible is milk, bread, meat & dessert, all meant to nourish & enrich our lives.
 
So a logical question becomes, if we need to be fed spiritually, how often should we partake of God’s word?   Some people think once or twice a month is enough… Some people think once or twice a week is enough… Some people think once a day is enough… What do our verses say?
 
Psalm 1:2 (CSB)
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
 
So the Bible seems to say each day & throughout the day.   For those who are only fed when they come to church, that is like only eating food when you have a family meal on the weekend.   Family Meals at Sammy’s.
 
Would your smart phone or tablet do all the things you need it to, if you only charged it for an hour or two a week?
 
How many of you could happily go through your week doing all the things you want to & all the things required of you, eating one or maybe two meals in a week?
 
Do you think the same when you don’t eat? Do you feel the same when you don’t eat?
 
Kevin Michael Hangry
 
Do you have the same energy when you don’t eat?   Some of the things that will happen to you if you go without eating for three days:
  1. You’ll be ravenous then not so much
  2. Your breath may smell

Research has shown that breath acetone is reliable indication that you have gone into fat burning mode. You release ketone bodies through your breath—and the smell is often unpleasant” 1

  1. You’ll lose weight
  2. Your body starts running on emergency power

“Researchers at Yale found that “During times of starvation, the body preserves two organs and then shrinks the rest,” 2   It runs on emergency power.

 
You might be in this room, running the Christian life on emergency power, that’s not something you’ll be able to do forever.
 
If we can’t live, grow, work & play without physical food, why do we think we can live without spiritual food.   This is a huge problem in the American Church. We are overfed here & malnourished spiritually.
 
If we are trees, many of us have planted ourselves far away from the flowing waters.
 
The Christian life is a journey, a walk, a race but many of us are trying to make this journey without the fuel to do it.  Church, Sunday School, Wednesday Night services, Bible studies, these things aren’t bad, these are family “meals” & you should go to these things, every chance you get, God wants you there.   The problem is they’re not enough, you need to be feeding yourself the word each day.   We need to reach out with our roots toward the flowing stream of God’s word.
 
So come to Sunday service, Sunday School, Wednesday night, a small group Bible study, but crack open the Bible on your own each day.
 
This is Grumpy cat, R.I.P.   You might be wondering why I put this picture up here. Some people say there is a shocking resemblance between me & grumpy cat. R.I.P.   I don’t see it.   I can get grumpy though, I have my moments. No need for an amen there.
 
Every once in a while, Bree will come up to me and say,
“Have you done a quiet time yet?” & I’ll say no, why?
 
She’ll say, “I can tell. You should do a quiet time, you’re much better when you’ve spent some time with Jesus.”   Now no joke, Bree, does this happen?
 
If I’m honest it happens more than I like to admit. A while back after she said that to me it made me think of something…
 
It’s better if I show you a clip to explain. PLAY SNICKERS SUPER BOWL AD
 
Amen?   It’s funny, we all laugh but isn’t this the truth?   You’re not you when you’re hungry spiritually, but there is an easy fix. HOLD UP BIBLE   You’re not you when you’re hungry. Read some Bible. Scripture satisfies.   Only when we are fed well by God’s word will we grow, thrive & produce fruit.
 
Psalm 1:3 (CSB)

He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.   The fruit that is mentioned her is described in detail in Galatians, it’s the fruit of the Spirit.   Galatians 5:22-23 (CSB)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
 
A lot of Christians act like they have to work to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit.   But really all you have to do is spend time with God, being fed by His word & you will grow, God will produce fruit in you.  
 
John 15:4-5 (CSB)
Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me.
 
If you don’t spend time with God, bearing fruit is impossible & growing closer to Christ in any season won’t happen.   We need to be in the Bible daily, taught the scriptures weekly & filling up our minds with the word, then we will be like the tree in Psalm 1.
 
Growing, producing fruit & thriving.   Psalm 1 gave us an example of two types of people.   A thriving tree that has been well fed by God.   & dust that gets swept away.
 
Which one are you?
 
Please join me in prayer.
 
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Grow: Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth. (Week 2)

Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth.

1 Timothy 4:11-13; Psalms 116:17-19

 
Command and teach these things.  Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.  Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”                 
– 1 Tim. 4:11-13 (ESV)  
 
Introduction:
 
Paul was continuing his message to Timothy on how to be a good servant of Christ. In last week’s message, he first instructed him on how he had to continue to grow in the Lord with proper nourishment (daily time in the word, with meditation and prayer); second, proper spiritual exercise, which included not wasting time with arguing about or with the godless and old wives’ tales stuff; and third, to live a life worthy of the calling by working hard and striving to live a life of integrity.
 
Today’s study focuses on an urgent appeal. In the same way that we have to teach the common courtesies of please and thank you or in school we teach multiplication tables, these are things that you MUST KNOW in order to grow.  
 

I. “Command and teach these things.” (v 11)

 
(NLT) “Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them”
 
Timothy was serving the church of Ephesus, appointed by Paul, as their spiritual ‘personal trainer’ or evangelist.  
 
A) COMMAND defined:

 

“to direct with specific authority or prerogative; order, to require authoritatively; demand”  
 
“Command them to exercise themselves into godliness, teach them the profit of it, and if they serve God, they serve one who will be sure to bear them out.”
– Matthew Henry Commentary  
 
Nowhere in this scripture to I see the word ‘option’.  These are the things we MUST DO and KNOW to grow!
 
Not intended to be a “Because I said so” type of command.  
 
B) TEACH defined:
 
“to impart knowledge of or skill in; give instruction in or to.”
 
We have become lazy in our approach in a lot of areas in our lives.  We used to have to do physical research, reading actual physical books and going to the library to cross reference and search out materials needed.
 
Now, we Google, ask Siri or ask Alexa to find the info for us, and it gives you what their search engines find as their top results, which can be skewed by their programmers.
 
O.T.   Deut. 6:1-9; Prov. 22:6
N.T.   Matt. 28:19-20
 
Training a plant Repetition is what helps you remember and grow stronger!  Memory recall or muscle growth.  
 

II. “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

 

A) Separation of Authority from Seniority.

 

Timothy had been mentored by Paul for over 10 years.  He is now in his mid to late 30’s, men in Bible times were still called ‘youth’ until age 40.
 
His teachings were not to be discounted because of his age because he was walking in the authority of God’s word, which was evident in how he lived his life.
 
B) He set the example…both on the outside and the inside.
 
This is how his authority is grounded.
 
Outsidespeech and conduct
 
He lived the same way he talked:  *No “do as I say, not as I do”
Not a double standard, but rather a voluntary commitment to live exemplary lives.
 
Since we are not perfect, we have to strive for the kind of integrity and quality in life that reflects Christ’s presence and love.  The world has to see that there is something different in how we live our lives because we have Christ living in us.
 
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”    
Roman 12:2
 
Inside: faith and purity
 
These are our inner beliefs not just about morals, but rather a mind set on seeking and doing God’s will.
 
This fine-tunes our hearts to be able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit leading and guiding our lives (NO STATIC)
 
Inside and outside:  tied together with LOVE
 
“Love stands in the middle of this pentad, for it is the bond that ties the outer and inner life together. Love always involves the whole of life. Outward expressions of love that are not rooted in Inner love quickly withers and die as insincerities. Inner love that is not expressed by open giving and caring turns to self-adulation and decay. The love of Christ is intensely personal. It is also intensely public. It simply does not exist one way without the other.”
Gary W. Demarest in The Communicator’s Commentary
 
They will know that you care when you show that you care! That is love demonstrated/lived out!  
 

III. “…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”

 
These are instructions on how to lead a worship service.  
 
A) Reading the scriptures to the church.

 

They did not have their own personal copy.  The more it was read to them, the greater the possibility of them putting it to memory.
 
(Reference again Deut. 6:1-9)
 
Excited about new Bible Study Group on the Public Reading of Scripture!
 
B) Exhorting & Teaching the church
 
Encouraging, giving urgent advice or recommendations   Teaching the doctrines grown out of Scriptures    “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.  But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Hebrews 2:12-13
 
“Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.”
2 Timothy 4:2  
 
This is God’s word telling us what to do, not just my opinion. Sometimes the message is hard, but it’s just like going to the doctor for a check up and him saying “You need to change your diet or it’s gonna kill you.” We don’t want to hear it, but it is for our own good.
 
Again, these simple truths are here for us as believers to follow, not pick and choose what we want to do. As a disciple of Christ, we are to follow his commands. I challenged you last week with this proclamation:
 
I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people…” 
Ps. 116:17-19
 
The challenge has been made. You have to make the choice, because no one can do it for you! It may be tough at first, but we will be a better church body because of putting these things into practice in our lives! I echo the words of Paul when he wrote to the Ephesians…
 
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Ephesians 4:15-16
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Grow: Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth. (Week 1)

Grow: Disciplines needed for healthy spiritual growth.

1 Timothy 4:6-10; Psalms 116:17-19

 

If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, you will be doing your duty as a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is fed by the message of faith and the true teaching you have followed. Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward both in this life and the next. This is true, and everyone should accept it. 10 We work hard and strive in order that people will believe the truth, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and particularly of all those who believe.                                            

      1 Timothy 4:6-10

 
Introduction: As we begin this new series on “GROW”, it’s important to remember the reason why we are to keep “Growing closer to Jesus in every season of life.” We are to never stop growing not matter our physical age. And we need to be aware of where we have planted ourselves. Is it providing what you need to grow in the fullness of God, or is it limiting you?
 
Illustrations:     Shark in a fish tank quote
Tomatoes in containers vs in a garden
Planting a fruit tree (got to take root before it can bear fruit!)
 
Paul was writing to Timothy to encourage him to be a “worthy servant of Christ Jesus” (4:6a). In fact, he said it was his duty! (yes, I said duty) Duty is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “conduct due to parents and superiors (respect); obligatory tasks, conduct, service, or functions that arise from one’s position (responsibility).”  There is a clear call for the church to live out in tangible ways the ethical implications of the Gospel. This week, we are going to study the disciplines needed to fulfill our duty and grow in Christ.
 

I. “…one who is fed by the message of faith and the true teaching you have followed.” (1 Timothy 4:6b)

 
A. What does fed by or nourished mean here?
1. Message of Faith (Scriptures)
We believe that the Bible is the inspired,  God-breathed Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16)
The faith or trust that we exhibit here is that we have anchored our hope in the living God.
 
  1. Good (true) teaching you have followed

The importance of learning from others’ examples. Putting into practice the things we have learned.

Illustration:       Common courtesy vs self-centered focus

B. How are we to be nourished?
  1. Nourishment in this context can be defined as the DAILY study of Scriptures with time for reflection and meditation
  1. We cannot exist on “Jack in the Box” or “McDonalds” fast food style of spiritual nourishment.
It is not a substitute. May feel full, but it’s just not healthy.
 
C. Don’t waste your time on the godless stuff.
1. Even before His first miracle, while He was still a child, Jesus was showing us what we should be doing.

 

“…Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?”   Luke 2:49    “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.  Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”              Ephesians 5:15-17
 
2. The Pharisees tried arguing with Jesus
 
“When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had arrived, they came and started to argue with him. Testing him, they demanded that he show them a miraculous sign from heaven to prove his authority. When he heard this, he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why do these people keep demanding a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, I will not give this generation any such sign.”                         Mark 8:11-12
 
There are those who just want to argue for the sake of arguing!  Don’t waste your breath! We have to understand that the devil is just using this to waste our time. If we are living our lives on purpose to be the child of God that we are called to be, then our actions are speaking a lot louder than words.
 
 

II. “…Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. 8 Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward both in this life and the next. .” (I Timothy 4:7b-8)

 
A. Time and energy as a commodity.
1. Making time with God a priority, because you set your schedule by what you deem as most important
Biblical examples: Abraham, David, Daniel, Jesus
Early church fathers: Wesley(both), Spurgeon, Bounds.
2. Takes discipline to set priorities.
 
B. Physical exercise vs Spiritual exercise.
  Illustration:       2009 Biggest Thriver Contest in Henry County.
 
1. C.T. Studd poem “Only one life ,twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
2. We can’t put our growth off on others. We have to practice the disciplines we have set.
 
 

III. “This is true, and everyone should accept it. We work hard and strive in order that people will believe the truth…” (I Timothy 4:9-10a)

 
QUOTE:   “If one knows one’s calling, one’s Gospel, one’s self, and one’s mission, all of life and ministry can be lived with love, joy and peace.” Gary W. Demarest in “The Communicators Commentary
 
A. It is ALL of our responsibility to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, and to make disciples!
1. Some of may do it as a profession (pastor, missionary)
2. Others may do it as undercover missionaries
 
B. How we live our lives the other 10,000 minutes a week speaks a whole lot louder than how we live our lives for the 80 minutes we are together on Sunday Morning

 

Conclusion:

When we confessed our sins and surrendered our lives to Jesus, we made a commitment to do whatever He asked us to do.

When we stepped into the baptismal water, we made a public confession that we had confessed our sins, had made Jesus Lord of our lives, and that we would strive to do our best to follow Him in all areas of our lives.

Then why is it that we struggle to grow in our faith and go share with others about our wonderful Savior?  Too often, the answer is we have not being doing our spiritual exercises, so we are soft and flabby, rather than strong and courageous.

We can improve our spiritual health by daily reading God’s Word, surrounding ourselves with positive, encouraging music and teachings, and by living exemplary lives, which will then clearly point others to Jesus! I challenge you to make the same proclamation that the Psalmist David did…

“ I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord.  I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people— in the house of the Lord in the heart of Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!”   

                                               Psalms 116:17-19

 

Fulfill your vows! Encourage and hold your brothers and sisters accountable to their promises…not to programs or activities, but to serving one another in love and sharing this message of hope to a world that needs it!

 
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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 6)

“Go in Love to Grow Closer to Jesus in Every Season of Life!”

Matthew 22:37-40.
 
Pastor Jerry is going to share from his heart.  The content has already been touched on in his last letter which is below.  He wants to dive deeper as he shares with us and prepares us for his departure on his sabbatical.
 
Pastor Jerry’s 6th Letter:
 

Dear First Baptist Church Family, It is with great expectation of what God is doing in us as members of the Body of Christ, and will do in and through us at FBC, that I send you this letter one week out from departing on my 3-month Sabbatical. The theme word for this time of Sabbath rest is GROW! Over the last year, you have heard me teaching on our mission and vision, our faith and values, our 7 big words and our 7:1 Initiative. All of this has been in preparation for fulfilling the 2020 Vision Initiative and being strategically prepared to enter 2020 on mission for Jesus. As I prepare to leave you for this prolonged time of Sabbath rest, I have no new word or teaching for you because I have already told you everything that is necessary for our fellowship at FBC to mature in Christ and become His Church. I only ask you to do this one thing: GROW! Grow in these areas:

  • Our mission: transforming stories through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Our vision: we desire to see communities thriving to the glory of God!
  • The 7 Big Words designed to unite us on what it means to be His Church: GATHER, FOLLOW, REST, BELONG, LOVE, SERVE, and GO!
  • The “7:1 Initiative” to help you grow personally. Research shows that people feel a church is “theirs” when they have 7 people they are in relationship with and have 1 place to serve where they can help make a difference. To that end, I invite you to take part and grow with at least 7 other people and find 1 place to serve. God designed you for this!
  • The four core values: “Loving others as God first loved us” (red); “Developing people for a life of service” (blue); “Living and giving generously” (yellow); and “Growing closer to Jesus in every season of life” (green). Walk firm in your faith in all these ways.

I have seen you walk in these ways. Excel even more! Regardless of your season of life, you are called to GROW closer to Jesus! This is all I ask of you over the next 3 months: GROW!

  • GROW in your individual walk with Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit!
  • GROW in your vital relationships by giving the love of Jesus Christ!
  • GROW as a Church Family by living as one people to the glory of the Father!

Thank you for the overwhelming support and exceeding joy I have received from you as I prepare to “enter the rest of the Lord” in a unique way. This is a gift from God that I do not deserve, but that I receive with a thankful and humble heart! Thank you, Jesus, for calling me to grow in you through a set apart season of Sabbath rest. As Hebrews 4:9-11a states, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest.”

Growing in Christ with you,
 
 
 
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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 5)

“Living and Giving Generously!”

2 Corinthians 8:9;  Matthew 6:19-21, 19:21-23; Titus 3:4-7; Philippians 2:5-8, 14-18 & 2 Corinthians 9:6-12
 

Good morning and welcome to your missionary training session. I’m so glad you all decided to come for missionary training. Now, before we begin, does anyone feel like they are in the wrong session? Like being in the wrong class in college or high school – “I didn’t sign up for missionary training.” No? Great, because if you signed up for Heaven with Jesus then you signed up to live eternally today, which means this missionary training is for you.

 

Let’s start out by learning from missionaries who have been in the field. Over the years, I have spent time with numerous cross-cultural missionaries and there is a dominant thread through most of them, though not all of them, and that is a generous lifestyle.

 

Missionaries are people who, in response to God’s grace in their lives, are leaving behind much of what is familiar and expected of them by their home culture so that they can go to others and give what God first gave to them. Their generosity is a lifestyle! It is about giving grace.

 

Many of the missionaries I have talked to in depth have done their work in the foreign mission field by getting to know the people and meeting them where they are. They spend a lot of time on the front porch with their neighbors, working in their neighborhood, and setting up ways that they can be generous to their new community. They are focused on building relationships.

 

Even if missionaries don’t have the financial means to be generous with money, many times they are generous with what they do have to give. They are generous with their time, their skills and talents, their home and vehicles, with their very lives. If they have money, it is simply part of the package and not the dominant part of the conversation of what it means to live and give generously.

I am talking about this because this is the most practical teaching on what a missionary does and how we can live in such a way that we will experience communities thriving to the glory of God.

 

What works for foreign missionaries works here in local missions. Here is the good news: you don’t need to go to language school or have to do the incredibly hard work of learning new cultures and customs. You just have to be willing to be as intentional here as you would be there!

 

This morning I simply want to read to you the gospels of Jesus Christ to make this point because Jesus’ whole lifestyle illustrates the point. Listen to Paul’s summary statement of Jesus’s example from 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”

 

How did Jesus make us rich? Listen to Titus 3:4-7, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

 

Jesus accomplished this for us by making Himself poor. As Paul teaches in Philippians 2:5-8, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

 

Paul encourages us to have the same attitude as Jesus did: a willingness to empty ourselves for the sake of another. A willingness to sacrifice what we want to help another. A willingness to put aside a comfort to comfort another in the name of Jesus. Why do we do this?

 

The missionary martyr, Jim Elliot from the 1950s, is frequently quoted, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Generosity is very much about perspective. When we realize what we have been given in Christ—heavenly riches, then it becomes easier to give away what we cannot keep—worldly wealth. The more and more we focus on living eternally today, the more and more the value of things upon this earth lose their appeal. Some people argue that we can be so heavenly minded we are of no earthly good, but I would have to disagree. The more eternally minded you are, the greater you bring Heaven to earth for its good!

 

Listen to Jesus express this: In Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

In Matthew 19:21-23, Jesus is responding a man who has asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. After the man says that he has kept all the commandments, Jesus demonstrates to him that he has not kept the most important commandment. “Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

 

Here is the mastery of what Jesus said: when you love God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, you will hold nothing back from Him that He asks of you. You know you belong to God when all that you have belongs to God! Generosity begins by knowing that all that you have belongs to God and all that you have is by grace for grace.

 

Does all that you have belong to God? I encourage you to demonstrate this to God in the way you live and give generously to meet the needs of your neighbors! God will give you many an opportunity to demonstrate that you have eternal life by the way you do this. If you are not in the spiritual habit of returning to God what is already His, then you need a new perspective.

Generosity is an outflow of devotion to the God who is our all in all! We are generous to that which we are devoted to… Paul says that we should have a distinct response to Jesus becoming poor for us. Listen to Philippians 2:14-18, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.”

 

Allow me to illustrate this in a simple way that works for me in my life. I say that I am willing to die for my wife because I’m that devoted to her. Don’t tell your spouse you are willing to die for them and then not be willing to die in little every day ways; like being polite, doing chores, offering forgiveness, etc. Every time you put yourself first and choose not to serve your spouse, you are demonstrating your true allegiance: to yourself and not to God! Jesus died so that we could be rich! What are the little things you need to die to daily so that you can help others be rich?

 

One last scripture to end today’s message: 2 Corinthians 9:6-12, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, “He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.” Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.”

 

One of the best daily disciplines for the generous lifestyle is to take time every day to count your blessings! Why? Because thankful people are generous people! When you know that all that you have is from the Lord and will return to the Lord, then it would be foolish to not use the things to show others the way to Jesus.

 

So, count your blessings! And then go be a blessing. Let your generosity flow out of grace, out of the recognition that all that you have is God’s and from God’s hand. Give it back to God by living and giving generously to meet the needs of your neighbor.

 

Just remember what Christ has done for you… yet while you were still far away from God, God demonstrated His generous love to you by sending His Son Jesus Christ as the gift of all gifts so that through His poverty you could become rich!

 

Live out of the deep well spring of thankfulness for your salvation and you will find eternal life is not only a final destination, it is a way of life! You will reap what you sow in this life and into eternity. Live eternally today!
 
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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 4)

“Filled Up to Go Out!” (Continued)

Acts 1:7-8

There are signs in our parking lot as you leave this location that say, “As you leave this place, be the hands and feet of Christ to our community.” This sermon series called, “GO: Living Eternally Today!” is about encouraging you, equipping you, and empowering you to live your life for the Great Commission of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20). That means you are being sent from this place to go out and live and give generous to your neighbors.

 

Today, I am going to finish last week’s message with some help from our Dominican Republic Mission Team. If the team could come on up please and stand with me.

We all area called to be a WITNESS for Jesus! This calling comes with your salvation! It is not a second special call. It is part of who you are as a Christian and as part of this calling Jesus insists that you shouldn’t go alone! That is the emphasis of our Scripture lesson for last Sunday and today. In Acts 1:8 Jesus promises, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

 

(DR Team Testimonies)

 

Jesus teaches us that Holy Spirit is our Helper which is why He tells to not go without Him!

 

Listen to Jesus teachings on the Holy Spirit:

 

  • John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
  • John 14:25-26, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
  • John 15:26-27, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
  • John 16:7-8, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.”
  • John 16:13-15, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

 

Honestly, Jesus knows that we can’t answer His call as a witness without a Helper. That is why He gives us the image of getting in His yoke! So that we are connected to Him because it is through our relationship with Him that we are filled with the Holy Spirit—the Helper, and not just once at the time of our conversion when we are sealed for the day of judgment, but we are to be daily refreshed with the filling of the Holy Spirit.

 

The Mission Field, even in your own local community, is like going on a backcountry fishing trip. You don’t always know where the best fishing hole is and which bait to use on different fish. The Holy Spirit is like a fishing guide who knows the lay of land, where the fish are, how and when to fish for them, what bait works best, etc. Who would hire a fishing guide to take them into the backcountry of the wilderness where there are chains of lakes just waiting to be fished, and then not listen to what they say? A good guide takes a novice and helps them be successful in why they went in the first place: to catch fish! The guide is key—the guide teaches and then reminds of what He has already taught as he guides you into action! Don’t go alone!

 

I use the fishing imagery because Jesus used it first. In Mark 1:17, Jesus invites and promises, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

 

Why did Jesus promise you the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8?  TO MAKE YOU BECOME…  It is the promised work of the Holy Spirit to fulfill in and through us the promise of Jesus Christ to all who follow Him! This is what Paul meant when he stated in Philippians 2:13, It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

 

This is why Paul can say to us in Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Because Paul knows that to be a Christian is to have the Holy Spirit and it is through the filling of the Holy Spirit that God brings us to completion, one day at a time. It is a process that you cannot go at alone! We each must go on the journey God calls us to, in the yoke of Jesus!

 

As Paul rebuked the early church followers who thought they could do the Christian life apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. From Galatians 3:3, Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” We can’t abandon the Helper once He gets us to the right fishing hole.

 

Paul says in Ephesians 5:17-18, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Listen to a pastor clearly explain what this means:

 

To be filled with the Spirit means to have the Spirit pervading, saturating, and infiltrating us with His holy and glorious presence in every chamber and corner of your being, leading and influencing every purpose, every affection, every thought, every action, every utterance. That’s what being filled means. The tense of the verb is the present, which indicates that the process of being filled must be continuous and constant. So another way of saying what Paul is saying is this, “Be continually getting filled.” In other words yesterday’s filling will not do for today. We must be like a cup that is kept full of water by being kept constantly under an ever-flowing faucet. Notice the word “with.” If we literally translated the passage it would read, “be filled in the Spirit.” The thought is that every part of the believer’s life is “in the Spirit.” If we are believers in Christ we are “in the Spirit.” That means the Holy Spirit surrounds us and rests upon us with His glorious and holy presence. Paul’s thought is to let this water of life to flow in and through us to expel and push out everything else until we are completely full of the Holy Spirit.[1]

 

You have been chosen and saved by God’s grace and it is that same grace of God that is working in you that empowers you to live as a witness of God to our world, starting in our communities. The question is not whether or not you are called to be a missionary—if you have been saved, you have been called! The question is are you being filled up to go out? It is the Holy Spirit of God within us that compels us to go and guides us along the way.

 

Don’t go alone! Don’t leave this place without being filled with the Holy Spirit!

 

How? By asking God! Jesus taught us this in Matthew 7:7, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

 

Ask God to immerse you with His presence and His power in every part of your life; hold nothing back; surrender it all and come to Jesus with all your weariness and all of your burdens.

 

You can teach people what you know, but you can only replicate what you are! Are you immersed?
 
Listen to the Message here:
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

[1] Pastor Tom Preble’s 2019 sermon, “Devotion to the Essentials Gives Birth to Revival Families”.


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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 3)

“Filled Up to Go Out!”

Acts 1:7-8

When you are going to drive your car out of town on a journey, what are two things that you need to do to make sure your car will make it to the destination? You need to fill it up with gas AND you need to know where you are going! This is even more true when you live the Great Commission life. You need to fill up to go out. You need to be filled with the Holy Spirit!

 

The Holy Spirit is both your power source and your guide along the way. As I teach this to you this morning, I really want you to think about the yoke imagery of Jesus Christ from our REST series, based on Matthew 11:28-30. During that series we learned that we are to get in the yoke with Jesus and learn from Him and become like Him. In doing that, we find that His yoke is well-suited (“easy”) because it is uniquely fitted and the burden is light. It is the Holy Spirit working in and through us to do the work Jesus is guiding us in as we submit to the direction and guidance of the senior ox, Jesus, in our oxen team. Learning to walk in the Spirit is learning to submit to the easy yoke of Jesus! We are called to live our whole lives in rhythm with Jesus, in His yoke and under the power of His Spirit. Jesus taught us this will give rest to our soul!

 

Last week, we learned that the Holy Spirit empowers real people to have a real faith to make a difference in real history! Jesus calls each of us to “real-life” missions. In the same way that He sent those first seventy followers on a real-life training mission, so Jesus is sending you out to make a real impact! While some people use a passport to get to their mission field, a passport is in no way a prerequisite to live on mission for Jesus! What is a prerequisite for you to bear fruit for Jesus Christ on the mission field is the filling of the Holy Spirit!

 

In the Scripture lesson for today Jesus tells His followers to fill up to go out: Acts 1:7-8 narrates, “[Jesus] said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

 

Jesus is calling us to go be His disciples in real tangible ways with real people in a very real community that needs hope. We are not called to be doomsdayers, but hope-bearers!

 

According to Acts 1:7-8, there are no boundaries to sharing the gospel: We are not to worry about times or seasons of history, whether culture is friendly and accepting of our message or hostile and denying it! Whether those in authority are for us or against us and regardless of whether the laws of the land forbid or permit. Also, we are not to let nation-state boundaries or imperial policies prevent us from living as citizens of Heaven here on earth. In short, as the sermon series title says, we “Go: Live Eternally Today!” In the New Heavens and New Earth there will be no closed gates as all whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life will enter and dwell in the House of the Lord forever (Revelation 21:25-27; Psalm 23:6; John 14:1-6).

 

Don’t close out people that God won’t close out! We are to be a witness to all people!

 

Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:14-20) and Jesus’ promise of Acts 1:7-8 directs and empowers us to go to every corner of the earth sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed, starting where you are and as you go along the way. Your mission field begins in your Jerusalem! The “Jerusalem” of Acts 1:8 is your current location. Real-life discipleship happens in real-life mission opportunities every day where you are. You grow in  Christ by being faithful here. Faithfulness is not for some far-away place. Faithfulness begins at home, but it doesn’t end there—Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of the earth!

 

The mission of God begins around your kitchen table, but it must leave the front door of your home and go to work with you, go to the store with you, go to school with you, go on vacation with you, go on work trips with you… As you go, live out the Great Commission by making disciples, immersing them in the presence and power of the Trinitarian fellowship, and teach them in word and deed all that Jesus has given us to find abundant life and rest for our souls.

 

Are you willing to go? How can you look for everyday life opportunities to go? Maybe you are already going and didn’t realize it…maybe you could start this week!

 

Before you leave today and go into the mission field of our communities, I want you to know something important: Jesus insists that you shouldn’t go alone! In Acts 1:8 Jesus promises, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

 

Don’t go out alone! As you go today into the real-life discipleship of being on mission as you go where ever you go, you are not to go alone or in your own strength. Jesus has given you His Holy Spirit to go with you. Some of you may remember this image that I have shared with you in a previous teaching on the Holy Spirit:

 

Jesus teaches us that Holy Spirit is our Helper which is why He tells to not go without Him![1] Honestly, Jesus knows that we can’t get to this destination without both a full gas tank and a Helper to get us there. That is why He gives us the image of getting in easy yoke! So that we are connected to Him because it is through our relationship with Him that we are filled with the Holy Spirit—the Helper, and not just once at the time of our conversion when we are sealed for the day of judgment, but we are to be daily refreshed with the filling of the Holy Spirit.

The Mission Field, even in your own local community, is like going on a backcountry fishing trip. You don’t always know where the best fishing hole is and which bait to use on different fish. The Holy Spirit is like a fishing guide who knows the lay of land, where the fish are, how and when to fish for them, what bait works best, etc. Who would hire a fishing guide to take them into the backcountry of the wilderness where there are chains of lakes just waiting to be fished, and then not listen to what they say? A good guide takes a novice and helps them be successful in why they went in the first place: to catch fish! The guide is key—the guide teaches and then reminds of what He has already taught as he guides you into action! Don’t go alone!

 

I use the fishing imagery because Jesus used it first. In Mark 1:17, Jesus invites and promises, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

 

Why did Jesus promise you the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8?  TO MAKE YOU BECOME…  It is the promised work of the Holy Spirit to fulfill in and through us the promise of Jesus Christ to all who follow Him! This is what Paul meant when he stated in Philippians 2:13, It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

 

This is why Paul can say to us in Philippians 1:6, For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Because Paul knows that to be a Christian is to have the Holy Spirit and it is through the filling of the Holy Spirit that God brings us to completion, one day at a time. It is a process that you cannot go at alone! We each must go on the journey God calls us to, in the yoke of Jesus!

 

As Paul rebuked the early church followers who thought they could do the Christian life apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. From Galatians 3:3, Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” We can’t abandon the Helper once He gets us to the right fishing hole.

 

Paul says in Ephesians 5:17-18, “So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” Listen to a pastor clearly explain what this means:

 

To be filled with the Spirit means to have the Spirit pervading, saturating, and infiltrating us with His holy and glorious presence in every chamber and corner of your being, leading and influencing every purpose, every affection, every thought, every action, every utterance. That’s what being filled means. The tense of the verb is the present, which indicates that the process of being filled must be continuous and constant. So another way of saying what Paul is saying is this, “Be continually getting filled.” In other words yesterday’s filling will not do for today. We must be like a cup that is kept full of water by being kept constantly under an ever-flowing faucet. Notice the word “with.” If we literally translated the passage it would read, “be filled in the Spirit.” The thought is that every part of the believer’s life is “in the Spirit.” If we are believers in Christ we are “in the Spirit.” That means the Holy Spirit surrounds us and rests upon us with His glorious and holy presence. Paul’s thought is to let this water of life to flow in and through us to expel and push out everything else until we are completely full of the Holy Spirit.[2]

 

You have been chosen and saved by God’s grace and it is that same grace of God that is working in you that empowers you to live as a witness of God to our world, starting in our communities. The question is not whether or not you are called to be a missionary—if you have been saved, you have been called! The question is are you being filled up to go out? It is the Holy Spirit of God within us that compels us to go and guides us along the way.

 

Don’t go alone! Don’t leave this place without being filled with the Holy Spirit!

 

How? By asking God! Jesus taught us this in Matthew 7:7, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

 

Ask God to immerse you with His presence and His power in every part of your life; hold nothing back; surrender it all and come to Jesus with all your weariness and all of your burdens.

 

You can teach people what you know, but you can only replicate what you are! Are you immersed?
 
Listen to the message here:
 
 

FOOTNOTES:

 

        [1] John 14:16-17, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:25-26, “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 15:26-27, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” John 16:7-8, “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16:13-15, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

[2] Pastor Tom Preble’s 2019 sermon, “Devotion to the Essentials Gives Birth to Revival Families”.


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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 2)

“Real Life Discipleship!”

Luke 10:1-24

I love to backpack! Whether it is a short hike around Westwood Lake or a longer backcountry trip, it is my favorite outdoors activity. In 1 month, I will be spending a week on the Appalachian Trail through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. I can’t wait! But your first hike shouldn’t be a week-long backcountry trip. For numerous reasons: breaking in your hiking boots so you don’t get blisters and hot spots, fitting your backpack so it doesn’t rub your hips raw, learning the right amount of food and water to pack, knowing what to pack and how to pack your backpack for a long hike. Those are logistics, then there is fitness and preparation. When I hiked rim to rim of the Grand Canyon, I trained and planned. When I summitted Half Dome in Yosemite, my wife and I trained and made sure we had the correct gear. When Daniel, Brandon, and I do sections of the AT each year, we trip plan looking at mileage and elevation, water resupply, and other essential aspects of backcountry hiking. You can read about this, you can study it, but honestly there is only one way to learn how to thrive in the backcountry and that is doing it—training. You have to go and hit the trail and make mistakes along the way.

 

This six-week series is focused on equipping you to “Go” into your everyday life to live out the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20. Last week we focused on who Jesus is sending out and why. Starting today, we will take the rest of the series to talk about the what’s and the how’s of living and giving generously. Like getting ready for a big backcountry trip, you have to know some things and prepare, but mostly you have to go out and train.

 

Before Jesus ever gave His disciples the Great Commission, He would send them out on real-life training missions. Just like Regan is doing an internship with Kevin this summer before she returns to IWU, so Jesus would send out His disciples as part of their training and growth. There was no graduation or ordination to wait for, there was just today—today is the day of salvation! Let’s look at an example of this from the life of Jesus as He trains up His followers.

 

Turn with me to Luke 10 and we are going to read through this historical account of Jesus and His disciples found in verses 1-24. Read Luke 10:1-24 from NASB.

 

This is not the first time Jesus sends out His disciples on mission (cf. Luke 9). In fact, following Jesus comes with a lifestyle of living and giving generously! Jesus does not save us for eternity tomorrow, but to live eternally today! You are not to spend your whole life studying Heaven in preparation to go their one day, you are to bring heaven to earth in little ways every day. Just like the best way to prepare for a big hike is by walking around your own neighborhood first.

 

Responding to Jesus in faith comes with the call to living on mission—the Mission of Jesus Christ as He describes in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

 

And again in Matthew 20:28, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” We join in His work to transform stories through the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Glory of the Father!

 

This is the pattern of Jesus and we have been teaching this through the 7 Big Words: Jesus GATHERS [Big Word #1] His followers out of the world and to Himself to learn to live like He lived, teaching them to FOLLOW [Big Word #2] Him and to focus their lives on Him and to learn how to be like Him so that they can find REST [Big Word #3] in their life. Jesus models the mission to His followers as they go along the way and teaches them to BELONG [Big Word #4] to His new family, the Church. Jesus called us (His Church) out of the world to send us back into the world to LOVE [Big Word #5] people as He first loved us and to SERVE [Big Word #6] people as He set the example for us to be servants. Finally, Jesus tells His disciples to GO [Big Word #7] in His authority to do what He does under the power and direction of the Holy Spirit. As we see this in Matthew 10:1 at the calling of the Twelve, “Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.” “Living and Giving Generously” is the way of Jesus to live eternally today! Living eternally today is not only a lifestyle choice, but it is a means of grace where God works through you to declare His love for the world. We are able to live a generous life because our hope lies in Christ, and we are not preoccupied with the things of the world. Living and giving generously is the proclamation of our rescue from slavery to the world!

 

Living and giving generously is a revolution against Satan who Jesus saw falling from Heaven (Luke 10:18) when this first group of disciples (still incomplete in their fellowship and imperfect in their faith) walked in the authority of Jesus throughout their communities. And Jesus told them very clearly to not rejoice at what they did, but rejoice in their relationship with the Father through the Son. We rejoice in whose family we belong to—we are children of God!

 

We are image bearers of God, we are to live a certain way because of the status we have from our Father. We have authority because we are under His authority!

 

Our doing flows out of our being—out of our redeemed status as sons and daughters of God! The fruit on our branches comes from abiding in the vine! We reap what we sow and we are called to sow a faith relationship with Jesus and reap the works that flow from faith!

 

Relationship is the essential aspect of the sending of the 70 that we often miss and to our detriment as the people of God. Jesus sends those who are in relationship with Him (the 70) to walk in the authority of His Name—the banner over the 70 is His love! Apart from His love, the 70 can do nothing! The same is true for us…

 

We live out our relationship with Jesus in real life every day!

 

Missional living—Great Commission obedience—is grounded in the authority that can only come from being in union with Christ. Only one who is immersed in the trinitarian fellowship of God can baptize anyone in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Only one who has learned to obey the commandments of Jesus by finding rest for their soul in the easy yoke of Jesus Christ can replicate an obedient disciple of Jesus Christ.

 

You can teach people what you know, but you can only replicate what you are. Ultimately, we are to rejoice in this—in people; people are the only works we leave behind. Not our name, but His name! The greatest legacy you can leave your family is not a large bank account or a building that will fall down, but a faith passed on. I love taking my kids on hikes. My son and I trail run and hike together. My daughters enjoy hiking and we love to do this as a family. We do small hikes, day hikes, overnight camping trips, and one day we will backcountry together. I am passing on my love of hiking by doing it with them.

 

We are called to bring thriving to our communities to the glory of God today and every day that is called today is a day to bring witness to the transformation of your own soul to the glory of God. We are called to go and replicate what we are in Christ. To pass Him on.

 

Making disciples starts with you having a relationship with Jesus that transforms your story first!

 

The Holy Spirit uses real people with real faith to make a difference in real history!

 

Jesus calls us to “real-life” discipleship. In the same way that He sent those first seventy followers on a real-life training mission, so Jesus is sending you out of service every Sunday on real-life training missions! While some people use a passport to get to their mission field, a passport is in no way a prerequisite to live on mission for Jesus!

 

Jesus is calling us to go be His disciples in real tangible ways with real people in a very real culture that needs messengers of hope.

 

Where is Jesus sending you? To whom is Jesus sending you? What are you replicating?

 

Jesus promised we would have help as we do on these real-life training missions. From Acts 1:7-8, “[Jesus] said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

 

We will unpack this more next week, but for now I simply want you to hear this: as you go today into the real-life discipleship of being on mission as you go where ever you go, that you do not go alone. Jesus has given you His Holy Spirit to go with you.

 

Your community is your Jerusalem! This is where real-life discipleship happens in real-life mission opportunities every day. Revival is coming! Where will it begin?

 

The mission of God begins around your kitchen table, but it must leave the front door of your home and go to work with you, go to the store with you, go to school with you… As you go, make disciples immersing them in the presence and power of the Trinitarian fellowship and teach them in word and deed all that Jesus has given us to find abundant life and rest for our souls.

 

In other words, go in the name of Jesus Christ to transform stories…GO! Live Eternally Today!
 
 
Listen to it here:
 
 

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Go: Live Eternally Today! (Week 1)

“Incomplete and Imperfect!

(Matthew 28:16-20 & Luke 10:1-24)

Today, we start exploring the 3rd of the 4 core values of First Baptist Church. Each of the core values is connected to one of the 4 colors on our logo and each is being taught and reinforced with a wristband of the same color. Today you have received or will receive on the way out, a yellow wristband that says, “Living and Giving Generously.” Please wear it with me for the next 6 weeks as we focus on this. You may continue to wear your previous wristbands that the leaders and staff of the church have provided for you at their own cost, but at a minimum please don’t throw them away. Keep them somewhere noticeable as a reminder of what we are all about.

Our mission statement at FBC is “We exist to transform stories through the gospel of Jesus Christ” and if this mission is happening in us (it must happen in us if we are following Jesus in an abiding relationship) and through us (as fruit of what He is doing in us and not as our own performance goals; it is the Holy Spirit who bears fruit on our branches!) then we will see our vision unfolding inside our fellowship and outside into the communities we live, work, and play: “We desire to see our communities thriving to the glory of God.” It’s all about relationships!

 

Our faith and values provide us with the guard rails by which we can participate in fulfilling our church’s mission and vision by the power of the Holy Spirit. The four core values are: “Loving others as God first loved us” (red); “Developing people for a life of service” (blue); “Living and giving generously” (yellow); and “Growing closer to Jesus in every season of life” (green). Firm in our faith we are to walk in these ways.

 

We are putting up all these banners so that you know who we are and what our mission and vision statements are (in the Gathering Area as you walk in) and what our faith and values are (inside the worship center). We are not investing precious resources for decoration, but to align us (like a car getting its alignment) so that we are all traveling in the same direction on the same mission. Amazing what God can do through a people who are working together and don’t need any credit because their account is already overflowing with God’s grace.

 

For the next 6 weeks we are going to focus on yellow—living and giving generously—and then while I am on sabbatical (August 25 is the final sermon that I will give in this series), we will all focus on green—growing closer to Jesus in every season of life (that 3-month focus culminates on Sunday, November 24, the night I return). We are each in a different season of life, the key is to support one another in our spiritual growth in each and every season of life.

 

This series is also finishing up the 7 big words that we have been learning over the last year: GATHER, FOLLOW, REST, BELONG, LOVE, SERVE, and GO! If you missed some of those Sundays, you can watch or listen to any of the sermons and/or read the sermon notes on our ever-improving website at www.newcastlefbc.com. These 7 big words are the building blocks for us being the people of Jesus Christ, committed and submitted to His teachings for His Father’s purposes and glory. Each of these words is an invitation, a promise, and a way of life.

 

The primary way we have been inviting you to experience the promise and way of life of these 7 big words is FBC’s “7:1 Initiative!” It is our hope that each of you will have 7 friends at FBC who you trust and are growing with as the church, people who connect you in the body and people with whom you belong. We also hope you have 1 place of service at FBC where you are impacting others and multiplying what God has given you for His purposes and glory.

 

The “GO: Living Eternally Today!” series will be constantly reinforcing all this 7:1 initiative because you will see that living the Great Commission life is living both a life of community and service. We are better together when we are in Jesus together!

 

The main scripture for this sermon series called “Go: Live Eternally Today!” is Matthew 28:16-20. Listen to the Great Commission:

 

But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

This is the Great Commission, not the great suggestion. It is not an optional “opt-in” activity for those who choose it nor an advanced option for those who want to be radical. This is what part of being in the yoke of Jesus, this is God’s will for your life. Like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, if you want the chocolate, you have to take the peanut butter. You can’t just lick off the chocolate and then hand back the peanut butter. Well, you can, but what a mess…

 

We are going to dive into the Great Commission in this series, but today we are simply going to focus on the who: To whom did Jesus give the Great Commission? Matthew 28:16-17 teaches:

 

1) To “the Eleven disciples”: They had an incomplete fellowship! Judas was gone, the fellowship was broken, trust has been shattered, betrayals occurred, disappointments erupted, but here is Jesus still giving this group of followers the Great Commission.

 

2) To “some were doubtful”: They had an imperfect faith! Not only was their fellowship incomplete, but they did not all believe. These were imperfect followers of Jesus entrusted with God’s eternal plan to reach all people with the greatest message ever.

 

Jesus gave His Church the Great Commission when they were an incomplete fellowship with an imperfect faith! 2,000 years later, we are still incomplete and imperfect, but God is still calling us to hear the same word: “Go!” Jesus doesn’t wait for you to be ready for Him to send you on His mission. The key ingredient of Jesus’ calling to live life focused on the Great Commission is not your capability, but your availability and willingness to take His yoke and learn from Him.

 

As many of us have heard before, “God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called!” If we wait until we are ready/complete/equipped to go, then we completely ignore the work of the Holy Spirit to empower us and make us who He wants us to be. His power is made perfect in our weakness. He’s ready to use us right now, where we are!

 

What are some of the ways we disqualify ourselves from living out the Great Commission?

  1. My faith is not strong enough or I don’t know enough…
  2. That is for pastors and missionaries, church workers…
  3. I have sin in my life or I may do/say something that hurts the effort…
  4. I’m too busy…

 

This six-week series is focused on equipping you to “Go” into your everyday life to live out the Great Commission, but today we are focusing on who Jesus is sending out and why. We’ll take the rest of the series to talk about the what’s and the how’s of living and giving generously.

 

Before Jesus ever gave His disciples the Great Commission, He would send them out on real-life training missions. Just like Regan is doing an internship with Kevin this summer before she returns to seminary, so Jesus would send out His disciples as part of their training and growth. There was no graduation or ordination to wait for, there was just today—today is the day of salvation! Let’s look at an example of this from the life of Jesus as He trains up His followers.

 

Turn with me to Luke 10 and we are going to read through this story found in verses 1-24. I will unpack specific details as a I read it…

 

I love this comment from a local church pastor on the Luke 10 passage regarding its application to our lives, “We are not responsible for saving anyone; we are responsible for telling everyone. It’s not their response to our ability; it is their response to His ability, even though it’s our responsibility to tell them.”[1]

 

“Living and Giving Generously” is the way of Jesus to live eternally today! Living eternally today is a means of grace to declare your allegiance to Jesus and not the world. It’s a way to live like Jesus for His Kingdom in a world that is actively opposing Jesus and His Kingdom. Living and giving generously is a revolution against Satan who Jesus saw falling from Heaven (Luke 10:18) when this first group of disciples (still incomplete in their fellowship and imperfect in their faith) walked in the authority of Jesus throughout their communities. And Jesus told them very clearly to not rejoice at what they did, but rejoice in their relationship with the Father through the Son. We rejoice in whose family we belong to—we are children of God!

 

Listen to this insight that further explains the importance of Luke 10:20 combined with the fact that we do not know the names of these 70 people,

 

Since God did not consider it important for us to know the names of the 70 (or 72) disciples He charged with the important task of preparing the way for Jesus, we don’t need to consider it important, either. What Jesus called attention to was not the power He gave them but the fact that their names were written in heaven (Luke 10:20). Similarly, while we may get excited about visible miracles and demonstrations of supernatural power, the greatest miracle of all is the fact that unworthy sinners can become righteous children of God (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; John 1:12). When our focus moves to ourselves and how God is using us, we are headed the wrong direction. It is a good reminder that, since their names are unimportant, ours are, too. It is the name of Jesus Christ alone who deserves all attention and glory (1 Corinthians 1:28–29; Philippians 2:9–11). It is enough that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.[2]

 

Family of God, we don’t have to wait until our fellowship is complete or our faith is perfect to be a part of Jesus’ Great Commission plans for our communities and beyond. We are called to bring thriving to our communities to the glory of God today and every day that is called today. We are called to go and make disciples of all people just like we are called to serve all people and love all people. Making disciples starts with you having a relationship with Jesus that transforms your story first! The Holy Spirit uses real people with real faith to make a difference in real history!

 

“You can teach people what you know, but you will only replicate what you are!”

 

We will learn more of how to do this over the next 5 Sundays, but please know that it begins with you realizing that the Great Commission is for each of us, in all of our imperfections and incompleteness. If you are in Jesus Christ, then you are ready today to be sent out. So as you go today, may the Holy Spirit empower you to live and give generously rejoicing that your names are recorded in Heaven (Luke 10:20).
 
Listen to the teaching here:

 

Footnotes:

 

[1] Jack Wellman, “5 Lessons about Jesus sending out the Seventy-Two” (August 22, 2018, accessed July 17, 2019) https://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2018/08/22/5-lessons-about-jesus-sending-out-the-seventy-two/.

[2] “Who were the 70 (or 72) disciples in Luke 10?”, Got Questions Ministries, accessed July 27, 2019, [https://www.gotquestions.org/70-or-72-disciples.html].


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